Put the Good in the Good Life

The more I live, the more I realize that if we wait for the good life to happen, it’ll pass us right by. And “the good life” is, I guess, contingent upon what is defined by “good.” After the basic needs are met, what constitutes good for me is paying attention. It is a paying attention to the nuances of life and people in my life that make it so rich.

This does not necessarily come easily for me as I am not a person who is inclined to pay attention to details. In this way, I’ve missed prime opportunities to complement people’s newly-acquired hair-cuts or perhaps notice that the bag of chocolate chips I just bought are of the mini-chocolate chip variety, rather than the full size… thus leaving me with regular size cookies with miniature size chocolate chips. I also recall purchasing garbanzo bean flour in a haste, rather than oat flour, then neglecting to read the label when baking; thus, the final product culminating with cookies that tasted like hummus rather than — you know– cookies.

Details are not my specialty.

Rather, I am inspired by the big picture stuff — you know– the new year’s resolutions type things. Dreaming big and so on.

But, as Ani Difranco sings in her song “As Is”,

When I look around
I think this, this is good enough
And I try to laugh
At whatever life brings
’cause when I look down
I just miss all the good stuff
And when I look up
I just trip over things

Tripping — ass-over-teakettle — is a tendency of mine.

For me, the big pictures keep me inspired and help me get out of bed each day, but it is the details that make life rich. It’s noticing the folklore behind a place that I have always lived near and only know for the gas station that is close to it. It is paying attention to the people around me, and taking time to sit on the front porch and hear stories that make up their lives that we had not shared before. It is actually taking space to be okay with not achieving for a while- and instead, resting into the rhythm of the day. It is watching for the nuances of a movie that often contain more meaning than the plot itself. It is stopping to watch a sunset for its uniqueness because I know that particular sunset will never happen again. It is learning the fiddle because I love how Appalachian folklore is carried through its notes. It is writing a blog post instead of a sermon because writing keeps me alive.

Life is rich when I pay attention. This, I am learning.

 

Blue Hill Prayer

Here in the blue hills of Asheville,

I was anointed this morning by the needles of the White Pine,

falling upon the crest of my head.

The smell of Rosemary Geranium filled me.

The wind flowing through the trees, kissing them,

created a symphony of sound,

drawing me into its mountainous song.

My heart swelled with love for these connections with creation.

They are family to me.

Thanks be to You, God, the Creator of all.

 

Hence, I write.

With exhaustion lingering, I am recalling the quote “take action first and let the insight follow.” I have been waiting to blog until I had the energy and space to pen a revelation. Lo and behold, with this modality, I have written very infrequently. So here is a very succinct post to call out the scarcity that I continue to function within; the scarcity that prohibits my creativity is the greatest enemy of all. Hence, I write.

I write of the beauty of my life as it is and the burdens I carry from the enlightenment I receive from Divinity School. Today was beautiful in many ways, one of which being that it was the advent of fall. I could not have asked Creator God for a more beautiful manifestation of Godself than what was displayed today. The wind made itself well-known, but it was a gentle enough wind that I could smell the changing season. The sunlight was equally gentle, allowing me to see the blue sky without squinting.

The day held me gently while I wrestled with the Doctrine of the Trinity, American civil religion, sacrament, and sexism.

Love, life, resonance, passion, an ah-ha moment, laughter — all these things I felt today. It turns out that I actually have little scarcity, after all.

“And I’d Ride on the Backs of the Angels Tonight”1

Though I have a blog, I rarely use it because I am not so great at expressing my feelings in a public manner, or private for that manner; however, I do have momentary revelations, though they may be few and far between. And since it is the new year, I feel obligated to journal it. Thanks for reading…whatever it may be worth.

I have become incredibly adept at making worry, fear, and irrationality my close friends. This semester started off on a terrible note, a self-induced one no doubt; it slowly progressed into something more beautiful though, thankfully so. I think this, coupled with the fact that anyone who knows me will tell you that I absolutely cannot stand the cold weather, created a bad mindset in me…a hard heart, unwilling to be moved by her Creator in Heaven.

So there is the groundwork that explains my current mindset. This is not life. It is not abundant life that Christ came to give. What does it mean to live abundantly? Well…I am still seeking it as well. But I know it is not what I have been doing. The joy, the peace, the hope, the hope is abundance. The grace given to me every day that is, in every way, undeserved… is abundance. Giving that grace to others is abundance. Giving your life to a cause greater than yourself is abundance. Loving others above all is abundance. And friends, this life is too beautiful, too short, and too precious not to live in abundance.

It is not about living in misery for the things and people that we don’t have…for there are too many things that are out of our control. It has to be about loving amongst whatever and wherever we are. For me, its extremely hard to let the guard down…the guard that seemingly protects me from the pain that comes as a direct result of loving with everything I have. Love IS messy. I have learned that. And it hurts. Like hell sometimes. When you lose someone you love, there no magic salve that heals. But I will die believing that love is the most incredible thing that we can give. It is the most incredible thing that we can experience… because it forces you to forget about yourself. In a world where selfishness pervades every crevice of every heart, Love triumphs. It’s our only hope.

This is abundance. Its the kin-dom of God here on earth. Though I have done an embarrassing job of it this fall, I will live in it because its also called obedience.

I leave you with these lyrics from an old Newsboys song called “Joy”; I cannot seem to expel them from my heart or my head. I think they are going to be an anthem in 2010.

You give me joy that’s unspeakable, and I like it, and I like it,
Your love for me is irresistible, I can’t fight it, I can’t fight it,
You carried the cross and took my shame, I believe it, I believe it,
You shine Your light of amazing grace, I receive it, I receive it

1) The title of this post is referring to a lyric from “Poughkeepsie” by Over the Rhine